On a balcony in Denver, Peter Calfee holds his baby in his hands.

"It's a beautiful baby," he says.

Not a child, but a smartphone-sized rectangle of plastic and metal, a vape pen that lets you precisely inhale exactly the cannabinoids you want: 2.5 mg THC, 7.5 mg CBD, for example.

With this baby, Calfee and his company, GoFire, think they've solved a hundred million dollar challenge.

Doctors often refuse to recommend smoking or vaping cannabis because, they rightly point out, they're unsure what's in it or how much the user is inhaling.

So GoFire is part of a mad race to fix that. A handful of companies — including GoFire, Syqe, Dosist and Resolve — are spending millions on research and development in order to get you the right amount of high.

"We're enabling the physician with a prescription pad to be comfortable stepping into cannabis," Calfee says.

[GoFire CEO Peter Calfee at one of his company's work tables in Denver. //photo Reilly Capps.]

A wide-open, enticing cannabis market.

There's little on the market exactly like these things, though a company called Syqe has a precise dose vape pen available in Israel. GoFire aims to have their machine ready this fall or winter.  

Resolve, a company whose tech is similar but not identical, says it's aiming at putting out its pen around the same time. 

"We want to make sure patients receive the right dose, not only to feel relief from their ailments, but to act as functional members of society," Rob Adelson, CEO of Resolve, tells Rooster in an email. Seven oxycodones will wipe away the pain from a twisted ankle, but it's hard to go to work with closed eyes.

With cannabis, there are hundreds of medicines, not just one: THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, terpenes, and so on. These companies promise to dial in the cannabinoids, and your experience.

A spot-on testimonial for GoFire comes from an 83-year-old nana in a GoFire promotional video, who says, "If you can control what you're using and know with certainty the amount that you're getting, you can be so much safer and feel so much better about using plant-based medicine."

It's been the holy grail of cannabis startups for a while: the exact experience you want, every time.

Is it possible?

[Alec Leeseberg, GoFire's technical project manager, works on the cartridges that will feed the vape pen. Photo by Reilly Capps.]

Help nana, get rich.

GoFire's Denver offices smell like tech startup hot on the trail of a new market segment. Fresh decal on the front window, putting green on the floor, scooters in the corner. They have math written in dry erase marker on the glass like Goodwill Hunting: f(x,y)=x+y and the phrase "quant data." There's a Doc Brown-type lab with soldering guns and computer circuits. And the employees have the cheery insouciance of young people who feel like they might someday be very well financially compensated for the fact that, these days, they might not be sleeping very much.

GoFire touts as its killer app, well, its app, which goes along with the vape pen. The app syncs with your phone and tracks your cannabis use like a nurse. Then you rate the medicine based on how much it helped you: soothed the pain? Calmed the anxiety? Five out of five.

GoFire collects the data in an anonymous way, it says.

"The data is what get me really excited," Calfee says.

The data can be shared with researchers trying to understand which cannabinoids help with maladies, including a team at CSU, Calfee says. The app can remember which strains were most useful to you personally. And it can tell you which dispensary sells more.

Tracking your use automatically on an app could not only dial in your experience but help with cannabis use disorders; perhaps one in 10 people who smoke cannabis say they sometimes smoke more than they'd like. Keeping tabs is the first step toward modulating use.

These machines, if they work, could be huge. After all, while most cannabis users won't go for these high-tech solutions, won't spend the hundreds of dollars for the machine, won't track their vape sessions diligently on an app — they'll just puff on a vape pen until they feel comfortably stoned — there might be millions of people who would benefit from the tech, which is why Calfee thinks the market for precise dosing products is a billion dollars a year.

And why he thinks his GoFire vape is such a fine-looking little baby.